Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shedding light on New Brunswick's powerful, secretive Irving family

In today's Maine Sunday Telegram I write about New Brunswick's Irving family, who over four generations have built a powerful vertically-integrated conglomerate that controls much of that province's economic and informational life, including Irving Oil and forestry entity J.D. Irving (Maine's largest private landholder and the 10th largest on the planet, excluding monarchs), all of the province's English-language dailies, most of its weeklies, railroads, shipyards, oil tankers, hardware store chains, bus companies, paper mills, a refinery and an LNG terminal.

It's also an enormously secretive clan whose company spokespeople rarely respond to media requests and whose own control of the provincial media market ensures little scrutiny at home. But a new book by New Brunswick author and journalist Jacques Poitras -- Irving vs Irving -- has pulled the curtain back a bit. I talk to him about the book, the Irvings, and their sway over that province.

I last wrote about the Irvings for the Christian Science Monitor in 2008; nobody outside its newspaper division would return calls. Ditto for this 2011 Monitor story on tidal energy, which the Irvings had just pulled away from. They didn't respond to inquiries for this story either.

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